SAN ANTONIO (AP) — The Houston Rockets are starting to feel whole, and they demonstrated that by taking apart the San Antonio Spurs.
Clint Capela had 27 points and 12 rebounds, James Harden had 23 points and 10 assists and Houston handed San Antonio its second straight lopsided defeat, 136-105 on Friday night.
Chris Paul added 14 points and 10 assists as Houston was able to sit its starters for most of the fourth quarter while holding a 110-74 lead after the third. Paul returned after a three-game absence and Gerald Green played after missing two straight.
“We’re a confident group that when we have all of our players and we’ve got a healthy roster we can compete with anybody in the league,” Harden said.
The Rockets entered the game on a four-game skid, but the Spurs were the troubled team. Two nights after a 39-point loss in Minnesota, San Antonio actually fared worse against Houston.
“It sucks to go out there and get embarrassed like that (back to back),” said Spurs guard DeMar DeRozan, who had 18 points.
San Antonio suffered its second-largest home loss in franchise history and fell two games below .500 (10-12) for the first time since Nov. 20, 2009, when it was 4-6.
The Spurs have allowed 135-plus points four times this season, the most in the league. San Antonio entered the season having allowed 135 points in just two games in 22 previous seasons under coach Gregg Popovich.
“We’re obviously discombobulated on offense,” Popovich said. “A lot of that has to do with me, so I’ve got to do a better job there. I think defensively we’ve obviously got to shore up our effort and our wisdom at that end of the court. We’ve got a lot of work to do.”
The Spurs allowed their biggest point total in a half this season and matched the most they have allowed in the third quarter.
Houston scored 70 points in the first half. Harden set the mark by driving the lane untouched with 3.7 seconds left for a layup.
The Rockets added 40 points in the third quarter. Houston finished 22 for 54 on 3-pointers.
The Rockets went on an 18-4 run beginning midway through the first quarter and raced to a 31-15 lead.
“We talked on defense a lot better and we pushed the tempo,” Paul said. “Like I’ve always said, when I’m out, we’re a different team. When James is out, when Eric (Gordon) is out, when any of us is out, we’re a different team. Tonight, I think we got a chance to alleviate a little bit of pressure from one another.”
Rockets: Houston is 9-6 after opening the season 1-5. … Houston’s 70 points in the first half tied its second most in any half. The Rockets scored 76 against Indiana on Nov. 11 and 70 against Detroit on Nov. 21. … Paul has missed five games this season, all of which Houston lost. … James Ennis was assessed a technical foul after screaming at an official after he was whistled for a pushing foul with 7:38 remaining in the third quarter.
Spurs: DeRozan is the first San Antonio player to score in double figures in each of his first 22 games since David Robinson did so as a rookie in 1989. … The most points the Spurs previously allowed in the first half was 68 to New Orleans on Nov. 3. … Only Roger Mason Jr., Richard Jefferson and Manu Ginobili have made more 3-pointers after 22 games than Bryn Forbes, who has 50. … Marco Belinelli has 245 3-pointers for the Spurs, the most he has made for any of the nine teams he has played for.
DeRozan was asked if the team could stick together following consecutive blowout losses.
“No question, no question,” DeRozan said. “I think our frustration defensively just comes from losing the way we did, but not in no way, shape or form is it going to break us.”
Houston coach Mike D’Antoni joked that Capela would likely not want to talk after he exited the game in the third quarter with 12 rebounds when his career high of 25 was attainable.
“Oh really, he said that,” Capela said. “No, he didn’t say that. He didn’t say that. He didn’t say that. He did (laughing)? That’s OK. Good win. We got the chance to let everybody play and get ready for tomorrow night.”
Rockets: Host Chicago on Saturday night.
Spurs: Host Portland on Sunday night.
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